“We’ve taken what’s left our our reputation and lit it on fire,” State Sen. Daniel Biss (D-Evanston) said Tuesday night — describing the impact of the state budget crisis on the economic climate in Illlinois.

Biss, speaking to about 70 people at a town hall meeting at the Evanston Civic Center, said business leaders he’s talked to say they’re making decisions not to invest in Illinois because they keep hearing it’s a financial basket case.

“The thing that makes my teeth hurt,” Biss added, “is that we have an allegedly pro-business governor,” but his refusal to reach a budget agreement with the legislature has doomed the state to declining credit ratings, increasing borrowing costs and huge uncertainty about what tax rates may ultimately be required to clean up the mess.

Residents at the town hall meeting.

The mostly anti-union reforms that Gov. Bruce Rauner wants as his price for agreeing on a budget “are impossible to imagine in a divided government situation,” Biss said, in which Democrats have a large majority in both houses of the legislature.

Scott Walker was able to push such changes through in Wisconsin, Biss noted, but only because Republicans also controlled both houses of the legislature.

But the Illinois Democratics, although they theoretically have a supermajority in both houses, don’t in practice quite have the votes to override a gubernatorial budget veto.

The state has now been without an adopted budget for nearly 12 months, and unless a breakthrough is achieved within the next few weeks it’s like to start its second fiscal year with no budget in place.

Robyn Gabel.

State Rep. Robyn Gabel (D-Evanston) said the budget crisis has left colleges raising tuition and laying off faculty and staff. It’s also cut funding for child care subsidies and public health programs, she added.

Laura Fine.

State Rep. Laura Fine (D-Glenview) said lawmakers have been trying to come up with compromises on a variety of issues, but that on one major issuee — workers compensation reform — the governor has blocked efforts to reduce costs to employers by refusing to let the state insurance department have the authority to review the rates insurers charge.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

Join the Conversation


  1. Is there an accountant in the house?
    I thought that State Senator Daniel Bliss voted in favor of an Illinois budget for 2015/2016 that was going to spend 39 Billion with only 32 Billion of income. I sure would like to have him explain how that works so I can use it as a template for my personal budget

    1. How Bliss does it
      As noted he was a mathematician. He is relying on a theorem—Banach–Tarski—that you can take a 3D ball and through cutting and pasting create an additional ball—i.e. have two exact balls out of the same one. However the Democrats in Springfield have been following this for years before Bliss—they feel they can create infinite [not just one duplicate] spending out of a finite amount of taxpayer money.

  2. I’m sure that Biss has been
    I’m sure that Biss has been working to replace Cullerton and Gable and Fine have been doing the same to Madigan. They need to start convincing other legislature people to do the same. Madigan and Cullerton have been doing the same tired things for years, raise taxes, increase spending, put more money in their private slush funds, and raise taxes. Remember when Madigan was leasing several empty warehouses to the state at two and a half times the normal rate. The state was investigating and the press covering the story. Then like magic, it all went away. What happened? Oh, I remember. Lisa was elected and she dropped the investigation. I guess you don’t get into to many legal problems when your daughter is the state AG.

    By the way Biss, most of the credit rating drops have occurred under Quinn and our current felon ex-governor many times more than the last 17 months.

    It would be great if Biss, Gable, and Fine can start working to end corruption in state government and give the people who elected you a break. I know there are many Republicans that are not on the side of the people, as well.

    Stop doing the same thing that have failed for years. Give the Govenor’s plan a chance. You might find raising taxes is not the only answer.

    1. All 3 voted ‘yes’

      I believe all three of these reps voted "Yes" to the recent $7B underfunded budget proposal.  How exactly is that helping the process?  The Democrats need to align around a tax increase and just push it through — or cut costs — or both — in order to present a balanced budget and put a stop to the debt agency downgrades and the fiscal death spiral begun several years back.

      Preaching to folks in Evanston about Rauner being a terrible person is akin to neo conservatives being pacified by Fox News. It's insulting to the smart people in the room, and frankly embarassing, to attempt to assign blame when your party essentially has the ability (and has had the ability over many of the past years) to do whatever it wants legislatively if aligned, and yet nothing has gotten done.  Biss' party in Illinois is as disfunctional as the national Republican party — stop bloviating and pass your tax increase — then face the political consequences if there are to be any!

      1. I really didn’t know BISS,

        I really didn't know BISS, FINE, and GABLE voted for Madigan's phony budget. You would think that Evanston would have a better class of politician but these 3 stooges are as pathitic as the worst of them. They are part of the Madigan/Cullerton mob and are clearly not friends of the Illinois taxpayers.

        Biss who when elected to one office, has immediately starting running for another office. He has repeatedly had these public meeting where he has made less than factual statements. Now he is running for Illinois Comptroller. A person that makes a 7 billion dollar math error does not belong in office. It is time to derail his political career until he can honestly add 2 and 2.

        Fine and Gable are continuing to set in their same office and just do the bidding of their master.

        1. I had high hopes
          I thought Biss being well educated in a science and Wally starting out seemed to look at the budget items.
          However Biss just came out with the same “tax and spend” items that Madigan and Cullerton dictated all their supporters fall in-line with. He also seems to feel big government—as long as Democrats dictate what that is, is the only solution.
          Wally gave in to accepting and justifying every hair brain spending solution the Mayor wants—what is the use of having a parrot ?
          Once fooled their fault, twice fooled the taxpayers fault. We need a drastic change in the Illinois Legislature and Evanston government/administration but those who like getting favor after favor keep blocking any reform.

  3. We deserve better

    Dan Biss seems like a nice guy. And smart, too – a mathematician. But his comments don't add up. He is right, of course, that Illinois' reputation is in tatters. But rather than blame the new governor, he needs to clook closer to home. He (and Gable and Fine), not the governor, voted for a spending bill that was not balanced, by maybe $7,000,000,000! How is that thoughtful and responsible legislating? Did he (or they) offer any amendment to cut the tab? No. Did he (or they) offer a specific, credible proposal to raise more revenue to pay for all of the items in the bill they apparently thought were necessary? No.
    The governor is far from perfect, but he did not create this mess. And Biss (and Gabel and Fine), for whatever reason, have not done a thing to remedy it. We deserve better.

  4. The Democrats’ solution – blame Republicans

    Biss, Fine and Gable are typical Democrats — they solve problems by blaming Republicans.

    All they care about is staying in office.

    Remember, it was the Democrats that stopped a grassroots movement to put on the state ballot voter referendums for term limits and gerrymandering. The Democrat party sued the grassroots organization and the daughter of longtime Democrat Abner Mikva threw out the million plus signatures on the petitions for the voter referendum. If that ain't akin to fascism I don't what is.

    Democrats rule with impunity Illinois, Cook County and Evanston. We need political competition to keep politicians honest.

    One party rule is a breeding ground for rampant corruption. Just don't vote for a Democrat. Simple. I like simple.

  5. Budget Impasse

    Even with a supermajority in the General Assembly since 2012, and a majority for decades prior, they cannot come up with a balanced budget as mandated by our Illinois Constitution.  Biss says he needs the Governor's office too, which the supermajority had for years and yet did not balance the budget.  While our part-time legislators collect the fifth-highest compensation in the country (plus pension and healthcare) we see finger-pointing but no balanced budget plan.  A rarity, this November 8th voters in the 18th House District will have a choice on the ballot in Jessica Tucker, former Winnetka Village President.  Time for a change.  http://www.tuckerforillinois.com.


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